The Financial Aid Office recognizes that households can experience changes in income and/or finances or other unusual circumstances that are not accurately reflected from two years prior. As a result, the Financial Aid Office has the ability to review you and your family’s unusual circumstance(s) on a case-by-case basis.
SLCC Financial Aid Office must have your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on file prior to reviewing your appeal. There are two different appeal processes for unusual circumstances: Professional Judgment and Dependency Override.
► PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT
Eligibility for financial aid is determined by the FAFSA, which currently uses financial information from two years prior to estimate a household’s current circumstances.
When such unusual situations occur, it is possible to re-evaluate a student’s aid eligibility based on their current circumstances through the Professional Judgment (PJ) process.
All Professional Judgment applications are required to have a detailed letter of explanation and supporting documentation. The Financial Aid Office may request additional documentation, beyond what is requested on the appeal form, to support your unusual circumstance. A Professional Judgment cannot be processed for changes until verification is complete. Please check your aid status on your SLCC Student Self Service Portal.
There must be a significant change to the household finances to be considered for a Professional Judgment.
Circumstances NOT considered:
- Standard living expenses (utilities, car payments, etc.)
- Mortgage payments
- Credit card/other personal debts
- Filing for bankruptcy
- Vacation expenses
- Elective surgeries
- All other discretionary expenses
- Different university offering more aid
- Reduction in 401K/investment values
- Parent’s inability or unwillingness to borrow Parent PLUS loans
- Student already has an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of 0
Types of Professional Judgment
1. Change to Expected Family Contribution (EFC): If an adjustment to the student’s EFC is approved, that adjustment will be made to the student’s FAFSA. When the student’s corrected FAFSA returns, the student’s Pell grant and/or federal Stafford loans may be reallocated based on these results. Supporting documentation will be placed and maintained in the student’s financial aid file and notated.
Examples of various circumstance that may be considered for an EFC adjustment :
- Loss or change of employment
Note: A change in student’s aid eligibility will likely not occur if:
• The person who lost employment has currently been rehired and is earning a similar or higher salary than two years prior
• The loss or change to income was not significant
- Child Support reduction or change
- Divorce/Separation of parents/spouse
- Change of marital status for dependent students
- Death of parent(s) or spouse
- Excessive out of pocket medical and/or dental expenses that exceed 11% of household’s Adjusted Gross Income
- One-time taxable income (IRA disbursement, pension distribution, etc.)
A change to the EFC could, but is not guaranteed to, result in a change of eligibility for need based awards.
2. Change to Cost of Attendance (COA): If an increase to a student’s cost of attendance budget is approved, the student’s budget will be adjusted accordingly. Supporting documentation will be placed and maintained in the student’s financial aid file and notated. **Note: Students who are submitting for a Cost of Attendance adjustment after the posted deadline will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Examples of out-of-pocket costs that may be used to adjust a student's COA:
- Costs associated with a student’s disability
- Childcare expenses for a dependent child of the student
- One-time costs of professional licensure required for student’s major
A change to the COA does not result in a change for eligibility for need-based awards, only increases the room in a student’s budget for aid including PLUS and private loans.
For more information on PJ deadlines and how to apply, refer to our Professional Judgment Form.
The chart below lists the type of supporting documentation required for various categories of Professional Judgment. Failure to submit all applicable required documentation listed will result in a delay and possible denial of your Professional Judgment application.
Reason for professional judgment request
Loss or Change of Employment and/or Income
Statement on letterhead indicating the last date of employment
Proof of unemployment benefits, if applicable
Copy of the last paycheck including any vacation pay, severance, bonuses, or tips received
Copy of applicable tax return transcripts/signed tax returns
Copy of W-2's
Members of the military must submit a copy of the DD214 and a LES showing taxable and untaxed income, if applicable
Documentation of any type of income being received including workman’s compensation, payments from 401(k) or 403(b) plans, the financial contribution made by individuals outside of the household
|Change in Student Martial Status||
Student’s marriage certificate
Student’s and spouse’s most recent tax returns
Copy of applicable tax return transcripts/signed tax returnsCopy of W-2's
|Death of a Parent or Spouse||
Death certificate of the deceased individual
Copy of final paycheckDocumentation of any death benefits received
Copy of applicable tax return transcripts/signed tax returns
Copy of W-2's
Documentation of disability diagnosisDocumentation of costs related to the student’s disability ex. Personal assistance, transportation, equipment, or supplies (These costs cannot be provided by other agencies to be considered for a Professional Judgment.)
Reduction in Child Support
|Documentation of the total amount of child support expected for each child|
|Unusual Medical/Dental Expenses||
Documentation of paid out- of- pocket medical expensesCopy of Schedule A (tax form)
|Elementary/Secondary Tuition Expenses||Proof of tuition expenses paid for the current academic year on school letterhead|
|Professional Licensure||Proof of costs associated with professional licensure or proof of payment (This is a one-time adjustment. Preparatory coursework cannot be included|
Note: An approved Professional Judgment Appeal may not result in a change to the student’s financial aid award package.
► Dependency Override
Financial aid administrators have the authority to change a student’s status from dependent to independent in cases involving unusual circumstances. For financial aid purposes, a student is considered dependent and should provide parental information on the FAFSA unless the student is:
- 24 years old
- serving on active duty in the US Armed Forces
- a veteran
- a parent with dependents
- an emancipated minor
- assigned a legal guardian before the age of 18
The U.S. Department of Education has also given guidance regarding situations that do and do not qualify as unusual circumstances that merit a dependency override. In particular, the following circumstances do not merit a dependency override, either alone or in combination:
- Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education
- Parents are unwilling to provide information on the application or verification process
- Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
- Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency
Note that all of these circumstances are largely discretionary in nature.
Sometimes there are additional circumstances that occur in conjunction with the circumstances listed above that do merit a dependency override. These can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- an abusive family environment (e.g., sexual, physical, or mental abuse or other forms of domestic violence)
- abandonment by parents
- incarceration or institutionalization of both parents
- parents lacking the physical or mental capacity to provide support
- parents whereabouts unknown or parents cannot be located
- parents hospitalized for an extended period
- an unsuitable household (e.g., child removed from the household and placed in foster care, tutorship, etc.)
- married student’s spouse dies or student gets divorced
If you have an unusual circumstance and need to begin the appeal process, complete the Dependency Override Appeal.
► Frequently Asked Questions
It depends. The following are examples of unusual circumstances which illustrate the likelihood of a reevaluation of financial aid eligibility. Please note that each family's situation is unique, and we take many factors into account. Please be aware that these income scenarios do not reflect assets or investments, which could change your eligibility.
Household Income: $30,000
- Louisiana resident
- Parent job loss, new income $20,000 ($10,000 loss)
While eligible to appeal, the student is already receiving the maximum amount of financial aid available. An appeal would not result in additional financial aid.
Household Income: $250,000
- Parent job loss, new income $150,000 ($100,000 loss)
While eligible to appeal, aid would be limited to loans, possibly switched from unsubsidized to subsidized. Revised income is too high for grant eligibility.
Household Income: $115,000
- Louisiana resident
- Medical expenses of $25,000 not covered by insurance
Student would be encouraged to submit an appeal as their revised income calculation would likely result in additional grant eligibility.
Applications are available via online at https://www.solacc.edu/financial-aid/professional-judgment.
All PJ applications are required to have a detailed letter of explanation and supporting documentation. Additional documentation, beyond what is requested on the professional judgment form, may be required in order to successfully process your professional judgment application.
The student will be notified via email if additional information is required to successfully complete the student’s professional judgment request.
Please contact the Financial Aid Office to determine if alternative documents could suffice.
There could be numerous reasons why a decision has not been determined. Examples of why an appeal is still pending include:
- Missing signatures
- No explanation
- No or lack of supporting documentation
The Financial Aid Office will contact you via email with the PJ decision. You may have your situation/circumstance reevaluated only if new documentation is submitted.
Once a PJ application is approved, please allow 7-10 business days for a student’s financial aid award to be updated.
Note: PJ Approvals due to a COA increase do not result in an increase in financial aid.
Whether your parents claim you as a dependent on their federal tax return does not determine whether you file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as a dependent or self-supporting student. In this instance, you would be considered a dependent student, and you should include your parents on your FAFSA.
Paying your own bills are not by themselves reasons that demonstrate "unusual circumstances" and cannot be considered for a dependency override.
Circumstances tend to be extreme (such as abandonment or physical abuse) to warrant the change. Simply residing in your own apartment or house is not adequate justification.
No. Simply because your parent is refusing to provide verification information is NOT considered an unusual circumstance.
Simply because you were adopted does not warrant a dependency override. You must have an unusual circumstance involving your adoptive parents to be considered for a Dependency Override.
Learn more about financial aid by contacting the Financial Aid Office.
1101 Bertrand Dr.
Lafayette, LA 70506
P: (337) 521-9621
Monday: 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Tuesday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Wednesday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Thursday: 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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